Bioware recently released its final Mass Effect 3 DLC, The Citadel, which represents the last downloadable content that series fans will see in some time — at least until the company’s new title set in the Mass Effect universe hits store shelves. Commander Shepard’s final adventure, as expected, is both shocking and special. The Citadel is obviously designed to be played before Mass Effect 3‘s final mission as much of the dialogue references “one last good run” and “one last night together.” As such, the story and its components, are incredibly sentimental, giving the fans dialogue to satisfy their head cannons.
The Citadel begins with a message from Admiral Hackett forcing you and your crew to take a much-needed shore leave before facing the Reapers. You dock on the Citadel, and are taken to an apartment — an apartment which Anderson has given you. Exploring the luxurious, two-story apartment — decked out with large pieces of artwork, beautiful plants, waterfalls, and other amenities — you find various tablets containing recordings regarding Anderson’s biography. I quite enjoyed these snippets of characterization and back story as they showcase his feelings toward Shepard.
Checking your messages, you learn that Joker’s invited you to a sushi dinner within the Citadel. The restaurant, like Shepard’s pad, is incredibly well-designed with stunning lighting and an aquarium that makes up the floor, ceiling, and walls. After speaking with Joker, you discover that he didn’t invite you, but rather you did. Upon trying to put the puzzle pieces together — along with why everyone in this restaurant has a French accent — you’re greeted by a new character.
Her name is Brooks, and she states that she is an intelligence expert with the Alliance Military. She’s come to inform you that someone wants to put a bullet in you, and that it’s not Cerberus or the Reapers: The enemy is a new, unidentified force. Before you can suss all the details, the restaurant is under attack.
Your attackers are armored mercernaries. They’re stronger than your typical Cerberus thug, and their weapons pack more punch. In the restaurant you’re given a new weapon: the MII Suppressor.
The MII Suppressor is a silenced pistol that carries a six-bullet clip, and delivers a significant amount of power. You are temporarily limited to this weapon, so be careful how you use your ammo. If you are an Adept or Vanguard, I highly recommend utilizing your powers versus your weapons in this one.
As you revive Brooks, you’re inevitably shot at, causing the aquarium to break, and send you on a long road down to the underbelly of the Citadel. You goal is to make it back to the others, but you’re left with one health and a scarce number of bullets — tough without medigel. The mission becomes slightly more manageable when your lover shows up to assist, but you still have to mind your actions. No armor and a gun that only packs six shots at a time? You do the math.
Still, it’s not the action that makes The Citadel shine — it’s the dialogue. The interactions between you and your romantic partner is flirtatious and fun, which is something that hasn’t given much spotlight in the past. The Citadel also makes light of how often Liara says “by the goddess,” and how many times Garrus has said “calibrations.” The dialogue gave me the same fluffy feeling that Mass Effect 2 did when you got the old crew together and it was “just like old times.”
Game tip: After meeting up with your romantic partner/random squadmate (for those who opted out of romantic involvement), search the area for Sniper Rifle Lightweight Material. This helps with Infiltrators.
As you proceed to the extraction point, none-other than Wrex welcomes the mercenaries by body slamming their shuttle and kicking all their asses. That’s right. Wrex. And he’s a playable squadmate. I’m sure Bioware added Wrex simply for sentimental value, but I’m most glad it did. That said, Wrex isn’t as powerful as I’d hoped — he had more abilities in the first Mass Effect. He may not be the strongest ‘mate choice, but it was fun to have Wrex and his snarky one-liners in for one last mission. You not only have your two-choice squadmate choices with you, but everyone else with you as well. It was nice having everyone on the battlefield.
The Citadel has a mission similar to Kasumi’s loyalty mission: You’re in a large casino and have to wear contacts to help you see the wiring that will let you disable and manipulate security. It also harkens back to the Samara loyalty quest as well, as you must mingle with others in the area to fit in.
Getting back to the apartment trying to analyze what little data you find, you find out that someone is in the Citadel Archives using your information to get inside. You all pile up in several space cars, and head there. The Citadel Archives are a wonderful addition, as you are able to access several entries, including one on Shepard. As you get deeper into the archives, your mysterious enemy is revealed.
I’m not going to spoil that for you, because the shock value will be non-existent. For the first time in the Mass Effect series, I was completely taken by surprise. I actually screamed, and dropped my controller. And made a few phone calls. I had a theory about this way before the game released, but the thought quickly diminished. To see that this absolutely ridiculous theory-almost-dream come true was surreal. And fantastic.
Game tip: Bring a biotic with lift, if you don’t have lift yourself. It will help you through the action.
Your fight through the archives has more nostalgic dialogue, and loads more weapon upgrades. At one point, you actually find an M7 Lancer, a gun that was used in the First Contact War (your squad mate will educate you). Although the firefight is short, it’s fast-paced, which is action that the Leviathan and Omega DLC lacked. In the end, Traynor’s toothbrush serves a purpose, and all is well on the Normandy.
The Citadel doesn’t stop there, though. You need to throw a party! You have the option of only inviting a select few — but what’s the fun in that? The party is loaded with even more fun dialogue, interesting romantic pairings, and hilarious moments (like more drunk Tali and awkward Traynor-EDI conversations). Once the party is over, you still have more nostalgic things to do; some squad mates want to come up to your apartment privately to speak with you, and others await for you at the casino, or on the Silversun Strip.
There are short one-on-one conversations, including a session with James that results in him finding a punching bag in Shepard’s downstairs guest room. As he begins to punch it, the pull-up bar in the closet becomes an action item. Upon selecting the pull-up bar, James challenges you to beat his 182 pull-ups record.
That’s right folks, you have to do 183 pull-ups.
The camera angles are nauseating and the sound effects are annoying. So if you’re prepared for fifteen minutes of trigger pushing and repetitive cutscenes that make you dizzy, go right ahead. If you’re not, well, too bad. Once you initiate the pull-up bar sequence, it doesn’t seem to let you back out. 183 pull-ups, Bioware? Completely unnecessary.
Not wanting to spoil all the fun, I’ll tell you that The Citadel is filled to the brim with mini-games, laughs, and even tears. Bioware did a most excellent job of providing DLC with closure. As a fan who was part of the movement that spurred Bioware into creating a new Mass Effect 3 ending after the disastrous original, I am very happy with the final product. So happy, in fact, that I consider The Citadel my new ending.
So long, Shep.